Golf MonthWELCOME to the October edition of Australian Golf Digest, celebrating Golf Month and everything the sport has given us and, more importantly, can give others if they try it.

Inside this issue you’ll learn the many wonderful things you and your club can do to help grow the game and increase participation.

In our search to solve the single biggest problem in our game today, we asked our three most recent Major champions – Jason Day, Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy – how they got started in golf and how they’d run the sport today [here].

You’ll also learn the secrets to raising a golfer [here] and the many benefits of playing like a kid again [here]. And we get an everyday Millennial to go undercover in our special investigation to see just how easy it is to join a club in Australia [here]. The responses may surprise you!

But before we get there, here’s a quick guide on what NOT to do this month.

At a state golf industry summit a while ago, a staff member here asked a friend with a seven-year-old son to find out how her boy could get started in golf, soccer and tennis. Both she and her husband were not golfers and not really sportspeople, for that matter. To kick off the experiment she rang a local soccer club, calling a number she saw on a promotional sign stuck on the fence of her local sportsground. They had no vacancies but immediately put her onto another club in the area that was looking for players. She rang this club and they told her there was no problem in registering her son, and once the registration fee of $95 was paid he would receive socks, shorts and a soccer ball. Wow, she thought.

Next she rang a tennis coach after seeing their name at the local tennis courts. Again, no issue about learning to play tennis because they just happened to have junior beginner classes, starting at $100 for 10 lessons and her son would receive a tennis racquet. Great value, she thought.

Finally, she rang a private golf club and was met with laughter from the person on the other end, who informed her the minimum age to join was 12 and to try ringing back then! She then called a public course where the local pro answered the phone, only to tell her he was too busy to talk and suggested she call back later, which she did, THREE times, before being told the club was unable to offer anything. Not wanting to give up, she rang a driving range that said it ran junior programs costing $120 for eight group lessons. Beauty, we’re finally getting somewhere, she thought. When she inquired if that included a golf club for her son, the answer was, “No, but we have some available for purchase.”

In the end she was very unimpressed with the service she received from the golf facilities compared to the other sports, and made it clear golf would have clearly been her third choice based on the experience.

Another story reached our office recently regarding a former elite hockey player who was giving golf a try for the first time. After getting a tee-time with a local club member, long after the daily competition had teed off, she plotted her way around the course under his tutelage, quickly getting a grasp for the sport. When they putted out on the 18th, late in the day and not another group in sight, the member decided to give her a quick putting lesson when stupidity struck. A nosy member, who happened to be watching on from the clubhouse, marched over and informed the newcomer in no uncertain terms that the 18th green wasn’t a practice green and that she would be best advised to find another area to work on golf’s fundamentals.

What was a fun day full of highlights and laughs quickly turned sour because of the actions of this gentleman. The talented young lady hasn’t set foot on a golf course since.

Thankfully, incidents like this are becoming few and far between because of initiatives like Golf Month. But to all those out there in club land, remember this as you welcome someone new to your course this month: You never get a second chance to make a first impression.   

Brad Clifton

Twitter: @bradcliffo